More than 1 million Australians have money in a Self-Managed Superannuation Fund (SMSF).

There are now almost 600,000 SMSF’s (which can have up to four members) and at last count, late last year, they had $638 billion in funds.

This makes the SMSF sector the largest in Australia’s $2.1 trillion super industry.

With 2017 shaping as an uncertain year for investment, and with the Government passing changes to regulations which come into force next financial year, now is a good time for SMSF trustees to have a fresh think about how they will approach the year.

Here are five ideas:

• Have a good look at the Government changes and think about how they will impact on you. If you have a large balance, you will have to make sure it is no more than $1.6 million for the retirement pension phase of the fund, otherwise anything above that is taxed at the top marginal rate. The new laws say that $1.6 million is the most that any individual can have in super and still take advantage of super tax rules.

• Get your capital gains tax in order. If you’ve bought and sold assets inside your SMSF and haven’t yet fully accounted for it, now is probably a good time to get it sorted. If you wait until the pension phase, when you start drawing down on your super, then copping the capital gains then might have an impact on any pension entitlements you may have been expecting.

• Understand the new contribution caps. From July 1 this year the concessional cap on super contributions will be $25,000 for everyone. Up until then, people over 49 can contribute $35,000 a year, with a cap of $30,000 for younger people. If you have the cash and are focussed on your super, it might be a good idea to contribute the maximum this financial year before the cap is reduced.

• If you are close to retirement, there will be changes to the transition to retirement arrangements which might make a difference to you. The current situation is that people who are over 55 and are still working can contribute as much as $35,000 into their super fund, while at the same time taking money out of the fund at a concessional tax rate. Under the new rules, those tax exemptions will be reduced so it might not make sense to either put money into the fund, or continue to take money out.

• If you are self-employed, check the changes to the 10 percent rule. The changes are actually good news for self employed people, many of whom also operate SMSFs. Previously, if you derived 10 percent of more of your income from a salaried job where your employer made super payments, your own payments from the balance of your income were considered after tax and non-concessional. This anomaly has now been removed, as the super rules move with the times.

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